Ric on Twitter

  • 10 September, 2012 - 10:55
    Any watch freaks out there? Time for some early Xmas shopping! http://t.co/kM5C8cyx
  • 25 July, 2012 - 10:14
    Have you kicked the tires on the Joomla 3 Alpha? If so, I'd love to know what you think.
  • 17 July, 2012 - 17:25
  • 17 July, 2012 - 16:18
    The Alpha release of the new Joomla! 3.0 is out now. The release is primarily intended for extension developers... http://t.co/eX31fk0o
  • 9 July, 2012 - 23:45
    My latest book is out: Joomla! Search Engine Optimization http://t.co/3lToGUhh #joomla #seo

Feed Roundup

Drones On Demand

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 11:50
mikejuk (1801200) writes "Gofor is a new company that is promoting the idea of drones on demand. All you have to do is use the app to request a drone and it shows you were they are and how long before one reaches your location. You want to take the ultimate selfie? Scout ahead to see if the road is clear or just find a parking space? No problem just task a drone to do the job. For the photo you simply flash your phone camera at it and it pinpoints your location for an aerial selfie. If it is scouting ahead then it shows you what awaits you via a video link. See the promo video to see how it might work. Flight of fancy? Possibly but the company claims to be operational in five US cities." I wish my car had a drone for instant scouting of traffic-jam alternates.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Facebook reportedly tinkering with its own mobile ad network

from News.com - 21 April, 2014 - 11:34
The social network is getting ready to launch a mobile ad platform that will allow it to better challenge Google's AdMob, Recode reports.






Categories: Open Source

“Breaker Of Chains” explores the many feuds of House Lannister [Recap: season 4, episode 3]

Boing Boing - 21 April, 2014 - 10:30

HBO sent out the first three episodes of this season of Game Of Thrones out to critics, and while “Breaker Of Chains” is probably the most uneven of the three, and the one most sorely lacking a big event around which the rest of the scenes can hinge. But it has the most thematically intriguing back-to-back scenes of the season so far, which cement that season four is predominantly a story about the woefully unhappy Lannisters attempting to quell family infighting in order to keep an iron grip on the Iron Throne.

The episode picks up just before the end of what fans of the series have dubbed the Purple Wedding, as Cersei screams at the top of her lungs for Tyrion to be arrested for Joffrey’s murder, and frantically demands Sansa be taken into custody as well. But let’s skip ahead to those two incredible scenes in the Great Sept of Baelor, both of which take place with Joffrey’s cold, lifeless body lying in the center of the room, ever-present in nearly all shots in this location.

Tywin Lannister, as played excellently by Charles Dance, is one of the most fascinating characters in the giant patchwork of Westeros. He’s the only character I care about enough to have watch one of those extensive YouTube supercuts stringing together all of his scenes in one video. (It’s a marvel how memorable he is with only around 85 minutes of screen time. What a supercut like that reveals is how maniacally obsessed Tywin is with preserving the permanent honor and prominence of House Lannister. In a previous season he made passing mention to his father, who nearly let the house fall into some ruin. As such, he’s made it his life’s mission to further the reputation of House Lannister at the cost of any happiness for his children, who he commands to do their duty to the family at all costs.

He’s also suffered personally since his wife died in childbirth. That doesn’t excuse his cold and dismissive attitude toward Tyrion, whom he continually mocks for being a freak who killed his wife coming into the world. But, like Cersei’s monologue about how she became hardened to the institution of marriage after being repeatedly raped by Robert, it explains how his personality has frozen into a cruel and loveless man who only thinks of pragmatic and cunning political and military strategy. He’s attempting to engineer a dynasty, and having won the war for control of the Iron Throne, he’s trying to keep hold of it—like those exceedingly wealthy families who attend conferences to learn strategies to make that wealth last for countless generations in the future.

Cersei and her younger son Tommen stand in the Sept, looking upon Joffrey’s body, when Tywin walks in and begins questioning Tommen. He’s the new King, and since Tywin is still the hand, he questions the boy about the qualities of a good king. It’s part history lesson on past rulers, part vicious insult to Robert Baratheon (Cersei’s deceased husband and Tommen’s father—Tywin does not pull punches), but mostly leading and manipulating the boy to the conclusion that he should trust his advisors. Joffrey wasn’t a wise king, and wasn’t a good king, and that’s probably why he’s dead at such a young age. Tommen will be a “good king” because he’s less likely to get in the way with his own aspirations. He’ll leave well enough alone while Tywin and the big boys hog the real power to themselves.

Tywin’s tone is so uncaring toward his daughter and dead grandson throughout the entire conversation perspective, but tact has always come secondary to sound strategy with the Lannister patriarch. He ignores Joffrey’s corpse as the remains of an uncontrollable brat now lost to history for good, and instead takes the new extension of the Lannister line on the throne under his wing to begin tutelage. Cersei’s reaction to her father’s constant question is remorse, as she blindly mourns the terror she brought up and could not control in the same way Tywin dominates his three children.

Wracked by grief, suspicion, and bloodlust, Cersei starts the episode as a screeching harpy, almost entirely unsympathetic as she moronically accuses her brother and his wife Sansa of Joffrey’s murder instead of, oh, I don’t know, any of the significantly more viable suspects, from Oberyn Martell to just about anyone other that Tyrion. As Dinklage says when his squire Podric comes to visit him in his prison cell: if he’d attempted to kill the king, he never would’ve designed it so that he ended up holding the cup and gawking right at Joffrey in the final moments. (For the record, the probable culprits have been sussed out elsewhere on the Internet. I don’t want to go into full spoiler territory, but a certain piece of less-than-reputable crystal jewelry may have been involved, unbeknownst to its owner at the time. Read the full story here if you know what this is about.)

The one real moment of humor during this scene is the transition, as Tywin leads Tommen out of the Sept while tentatively delving into the Westeros version of “The Birds And The Bees” talk. Jamie enters, and like any father-pretending-to-be-uncle would do, he attempts to comfort and reassure Tommen of his safety. And then the twin Lannister children are alone in the Sept. Cersei ceaselessly demands that Jamie, the father of her royal children, the subject of pernicious (true) rumors that threaten to disgrace the family, kill their brother Tyrion because she’s so (foolishly) sure that he murdered Joffrey despite the fact that he had little to gain by doing it except more ire from the family members he’s trying to avoid because they want him dead.

It’s at this moment, when Cersei is at her most insanely incredulous, that the two siblings give into the heightened emotion of the moment alone and kiss. But when Cersei pulls away, Jamie’s anger at her rejection ignites, and the tone flips almost immediately as he lashes out verbally and then proceeds to violently rape his sister, over her repeated protestations, up against the stone slab that supports the recently murdered body of their son. Cersei pleads, “Stop,” over and over again. Jamie says, “No.” Cersei screams, “It’s not right.” Jamie grunts, “I don’t care.”

It’s unflinchingly brutal, one of the most viscerally upsetting scenes depicted in an episode of Game Of Thrones that I can think of. (There have been other rapes that are only described, which have sounded more violent, but that scale is wholly useless.) Jamie, overcome with grief for his son, still upset at losing his hand and along with it his identity as a swordsman, lashes out at the woman he loves who continues to deny him. Again, like much of the behavior of the main figures in House Lannister, it’s not an excuse, merely an explanation for his complexity. This is why, for all the things Jamie says to Brienne, and that fledgling friendship, I still can’t root for the guy. He’s black as dragonglass at his core, but then again, so is Cersei. These are two morally complex characters who inflict terrible things upon outsiders and each other.

Tywin’s insistence on reputation and family prominence over any personal happiness may be working out in the short term of this single generation. After all, the Lannisters are still on the throne and control the realm. But the damage Tywin has inflicted upon his children means that the greatest threat to a millennia of Lannister rule atop the Iron Throne isn’t some outside army staking a claim and laying seize to King’s Landing, nor is it the threat of the Targaryen girl with three dragons across the sea—it’s the discord within the family itself, so tenuously holding on while privately falling to pieces. Tywin hasn’t been proven an utter hypocrite yet, like many of the other characters, but I think it’s safe to say at some point, all of that fervent abuse and strict control will come back to bite the Lannister patriarch right in the solar plexus.

Tyrion has demonstrated his motivation to help his family, similar to his father (and seeking approval though he’d never admit it and Tywin would never grant it), but also to do what little he can for the good of the realm, like in the Battle of Blackwater Bay, or his cunning logic. But he’s trapped in yet another trial situation, left high and dry as the prime suspect in a king’s murder. Sansa flees the capital, aided by Joffrey’s fool, who brings her out of the city to a boat where Lord Petyr Baelish awaits. He engineered the opportunity for Sansa to escape, and it’s not too much of a leap to presume he had a hand in Joffrey’s demise as well. That leaves Tyrion without a strong character witness. His goodbye to Podric is quite touching. That shred of decent humanity, coupled with his concern for Shae, his comedic barbs aimed at Tywin, Cersei, and just about everyone else, Tyrion is the Lannister who has been mistreated the most but managed to sweep as much as possible under the rug to keep on living. These Lannisters are alone at the top of Westeros now, but they’re finding that it’s lonely on the peak, and once up there the only people left to fight with belong to the family.

 

Extra Thoughts

• Sam decides to move Gilly to a nearby village so she’s not in danger of any criminals forced to join the Night’s Watch attempting to assault her. To a certain extent Sam is correct to worry about danger coming to Caslte Black, though for another reason, since the Wildlings are canvassing lands south of the Wall and massacring villages. When that news reaches the Night’s Watch, it combines with the surviving members of what turned into a mutiny group at Craster’s Keep. Jon Snow correctly observes that they now need to seek out those mutineers and put them down, lest Mance Rayder learn that the force at the Wall is significantly diminished.

• Two other small check-ins this week: The Hound takes advantage of a kind man who shelters him and Arya for the night, leading to a confrontation over her not recognizing that things are bad, and weak people just plain won’t survive in a harsh world like that. And Davos comes up with a plan to potentially get Stannis the troops he desires, now tht his fortunes have improved with Joffrey’s death.

• Which brings us to Daenerys, tucked in right at the end of the episode once again so she can make a big dramatic speech and order some kind action that seems badass thanks to the swelling soundtrack. She’s a fan favorite, but really she’s a naïve liberator who hasn’t had the chance to settle down and actually attempt to rule. If she conquers Mereen, then she’ll finally have the chance to prove she can build something viable instead of just marauding and toppling slave cities and increasing her reputation by freeing all the slaves.

 








Categories: The Essentials

How BentProp and undersea robots found long-lost WWII bombers

from News.com - 21 April, 2014 - 09:02
Hundreds of families of Americans missing in action in Palau since World War II have long wondered what happened to their loved ones. Now cutting-edge oceanographic technology is helping find answers.






Categories: Open Source

Mystery tool in my backyard

Boing Boing - 21 April, 2014 - 08:54

Found this today in a seldom-visited area of our backyard. Looks handmade, with a piece of tire on one end, a tape covered shaft, and a hook on the other end. No idea what it is.








Categories: The Essentials

After Apple, mobile readies big push to 64-bit

from News.com - 21 April, 2014 - 08:50
TSMC signaled this week that the mobile industry is getting ready to move to 64-bit computing.






Categories: Open Source

$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 08:18
An anonymous reader writes "A man named Jose Delgado was so used to using a $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic hand for the last year that he didn't realize that there were other options out there. Although Delgado, born without a left hand, was able to obtain the hand via his insurance, he found that a 3D printed 'Cyborg Beast,' open source hand ,which costs just $50 to print, actually was more comfortable and performed better than the device which costs 840 times as much money."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

$42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 08:18
An anonymous reader writes "A man named Jose Delgado was so used to using a $42,000 myoelectric prosthetic hand for the last year that he didn't realize that there were other options out there. Although Delgado, born without a left hand, was able to obtain the hand via his insurance, he found that a 3D printed 'Cyborg Beast,' open source hand ,which costs just $50 to print, actually was more comfortable and performed better than the device which costs 840 times as much money."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

The high-tech hunt for WWII MIAs (pictures)

from News.com - 21 April, 2014 - 07:35
Thanks to some very high-tech tools being used in the hunt for American military planes shot down by the Japanese in near the island nation of Palau in 1944, some families will finally be learning the fate of their lost loved ones. CNET traveled to Palau to document the hunt.






Categories: Open Source

The cutting-edge tech behind the hunt for lost WWII planes

from News.com - 21 April, 2014 - 07:29
For years, the BentProp Project has searched the seas off Palau for missing planes shot down by the Japanese. Now the group has access to the latest oceanographic technology, which it used to find two aircraft lost for 70 years.






Categories: Open Source

Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 07:08
New submitter Chipmunk100 (3619141) writes "Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 07:08
New submitter Chipmunk100 (3619141) writes "Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Biofuels From Corn Can Create More Greenhouse Gases Than Gasoline

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 07:08
New submitter Chipmunk100 (3619141) writes "Using corn crop residue to make ethanol and other biofuels reduces soil carbon and can generate more greenhouse gases than gasoline, according to a study published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. The findings by a University of Nebraska-Lincoln team of researchers cast doubt on whether corn residue can be used to meet federal mandates to ramp up ethanol production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Easter Bunny hates you

Boing Boing - 21 April, 2014 - 06:26

I have always loved this. Happy holiday.

Video link






Categories: The Essentials

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 06:11
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 06:11
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 06:11
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

L.A. Science Teacher Suspended Over Student Science Fair Projects

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 06:11
An anonymous reader writes "A high school science teacher at Grand Arts High School in Los Angeles was suspended from the classroom in February, after two of his science fair students turned in projects deemed dangerous by the administrators. "One project was a marshmallow shooter — which uses air pressure to launch projectiles. The other was an AA battery-powered coil gun — which uses electromagnetism to launch small objects. Similar projects have been honored in past LA County Science Fairs and even demonstrated at the White House."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 05:12
Ars Technica has nothing good to say about the scientific understanding (or at least public understanding) that led Portland to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenage prankster urinated into the city's water supply. Maybe SCADA systems shouldn't be quite as high on the list of dangers, when major utilities can be quite this brittle even without a high-skill attack.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials

Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Slashdot - 21 April, 2014 - 05:12
Ars Technica has nothing good to say about the scientific understanding (or at least public understanding) that led Portland to drain 38 million gallons of water after a teenage prankster urinated into the city's water supply. Maybe SCADA systems shouldn't be quite as high on the list of dangers, when major utilities can be quite this brittle even without a high-skill attack.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.








Categories: The Essentials
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